The next time your wife is rummaging around in her handbag for her lippy or car keys, you may want to surreptitiously hand her a wet wipe. A new study from UK washroom company Initial Hygiene has found that women's handbags are often crawling with harmful bacteria that can pose a significant health risk to humans.
Handbag picture from Shutterstock
Researchers from Initial Hygiene took swab samples from used women’s handbags along with the items inside them. Disturbingly, around 20 per cent of the bags tested were found to contain higher bacteria levels than the average toilet seat.
"Handbags come into regular contact with our hands and a variety of surfaces; so the risk of transferring different germs onto them is very high, especially as bags are rarely cleaned," Initial Hygiene explained in a statement.
"[Our research] found that one in five handbag handles was home to levels of bacteria-related contamination which pose a significant risk of cross-contamination, while the single dirtiest handle swabbed housed almost three times this level."
Leather bags were discovered to be the dirtiest as the spongy texture provides the the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow and spread. The dirtiest items in a handbag were found to be face and hand cream, lipstick and mascara.
The report concludes that regular hand sanitisation is essential to prevent the presence of bacteria and that bags should be regularly cleaned to remove contamination build ups.
My first instinct was to dismiss this report as a lame attempt to gain brand recognition through a raft of icky headlines (the lack of methodology or sample size information in the press release is particularly suss).
However, when you think about it, when was the last time you or an acquaintance actively cleaned a handbag? Most of the women I know will happily take their bags into public restrooms, rest them on train seats or leave them on pub floors without a second thought — yet I don't think I've ever seen anyone clean a handbag handle, ever.
In any event, I certainly wont be accepting any more mints from my wife's handbag. Just in case.